One year ago, Switzerland shocked Canada in the semifinals of the World Hockey Championships with a 3-2 win. After making the gold medal final in three-straight years, Canada ended up in the bronze medal game and lost to Russia, while Switzerland went on to take silver.
On Thursday, Switzerland nearly did it again, only this time it was in the quarterfinals.
Switzerland took a one-goal lead into the third period and held it right to the last second. In that last second, however, Canadian defenceman Damon Severson delivered a stunner.
Severson’s first slap shot from the point got blocked, but his second attempt found its way through the five Swiss skaters that lined up to block it. Swiss goaltender Leonardo Genoni, who had an incredible game for Switzerland, got a piece of the puck with his blocker, but it snuck behind him into the crease. As the deciseconds ticked away, the puck rolled over the goal line.
It took a video review to see whether the puck crossed the line in time, but the replay from above showed the clock ticking down to 0.4 seconds when the puck entered the net.
It was an incredible, improbable goal that tied the game at 2-2 and sent it to overtime, where Mark Stone scored his second of the game to send Switzerland home.
It’s hard to argue that Canada didn’t deserve the win. They out-shot Switzerland 42-24, including 20 shots in the third period alone. And yet, they never had a lead at any point in the game.
Switzerland opened the scoring in the first period, taking advantage of an interference penalty on Jared McCann to score on the power play. Sven Andrighetto, one a handful of NHLers on the Swiss squad, blasted a slap shot through a screen to beat Matt Murray.
Stone responded for Canada in the second period, tipping in a point shot by Dante Fabbro, but Switzerland had a last-minute goal of their own to take the lead late in the middle frame.
A high-sticking call on Jonathan Marchessault gave Switzerland their second power play of the game and they made Canada pay. With just seconds left in the second period, Lino Martschini tipped Nino Niederreiter’s bad angle shot, forcing Murray to kick out a rebound to Nico Hischier at the back door, and he made no mistake, scoring with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Yes, that goal was Nico from Lino and Nino.
There were close calls for both teams beside the few goals. Darnell Nurse hit the post on a shorthanded chance shortly before the second Swiss goal. Fabbro saved a goal, stymying a chance from Christoph Bertschy at the post after he pulled the puck around Murray. But no one could score until Severson’s last-second tying goal.
It was a heartbreaking result for Switzerland, who are quickly becoming one of the most dangerous teams in international hockey. Their issues began in the preliminary round, when they dropped one-goal games to Sweden and Czechia that resulted in a fourth-place finish in Group B.
Another win could have kept Switzerland out of fourth, which would have meant facing Finland. Two more wins would have meant facing Germany. Instead, they had to face the winners of Group A, Canada, and still nearly pulled off the upset.
You have to wonder if Sven Baertschi, who skipped the tournament to recover after an injury-filled season with the Canucks, could have made a difference for Switzerland. Baertschi has only played one World Championship game for Switzerland in his career, as injuries have repeatedly kept him out of the tournament.
The win for Canada means Troy Stecher moves on to the semifinal, though he’s had less of a role as the tournament has progressed. He played just 7:21 against Switzerland, but he loojed just fine in those limited minutes. He was effective skating the puck out of the defensive zone and battling in front of the net, but Fabbro has grabbed a larger share of the minutes in the last couple games.
Other Canucks at the World Championship
USA vs Russia
It’s the end of the tournament for Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko, who ran into Russia in the quarterfinals. Russia is deservedly the favourite for the gold medal, led by elite talent like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, and Evgeni Kuznetsov.
Russia was undefeated in the preliminary round, with no teams even coming within one goal. The US, however, gave them a run for their money, keeping it close all game before finally falling short 4-3.
Demko watched the game from the bench, as Cory Schneider got the start. Schneider had a strong game, making 39 saves on 43 shots. When you’re facing that many shots, keeping your team in the game is key, and Schneider did just that.
Hughes played limited minutes, finishing with 11:12 in ice time, which is a little frustrating given they were down for the entire game and could have used his offensive spark. He was on the ice for Russia’s opening goal a minute into the game, as he chased the puck carrier and took himself out of position, which makes me wonder if that caused some hesitation to give him more ice time later in the game.
Hughes excelled at moving the puck up ice all tournament, so it really seemed like he could have been given a little more rope in this elimination game.
Really, Team USA needed to perform better in the preliminary round to avoid having to face Russia in the quarterfinals. Their early loss to Slovakia may have cost them the tournament.